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Professional Presence and Soft Skills: A Role for Accounting Education

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Document pages: 10 pages

Abstract: Current economic conditions have changed the dynamics of all employment, including accounting, which traditionally has had a supply shortfall. CPA firms are beginning to lay off experienced people for the first time in ten years, while still hiring new staff accountants. The AICPA Vision 2011 Project has added soft skills to the list of core competencies that successful accountants should possess. Therefore, a case can be made that accounting educators have a responsibility to help prepare students to make the transition from unfocused high school seniors to contributing members of a professional service team. It is incumbent upon accounting educators to prepare students to be competitive in the unfolding economic future. In summary, technical skills are necessary but not sufficient for a successful accounting career that includes an individual s selection, retention and advancement. An incremental laboratory experience was designed to create an environment for soft skill development that does not diminish the attention to accounting theory and technical development. The mandatory experience was added to two required accounting classes starting in the spring of sophomore year. The lab was based on an assessment of needs identified by the profession in a series of interviews and considerations of the professional development literature. The lab experience includes: (1) Professional Motivation, (2) Emotional Intelligence, (3) Soft Skill Development, (4) Career Skills, and (5) Time Management. These specific skills are grounded in the context of emotional intelligence (Golemon, 2004), which focuses on student s individual responsibility for creating their own professional futures. This laboratory experience has a dual focus--of satisfying the needs of students and the accounting firms that employ them by creating mature professionals able to maximize the contribution they make over their entire career. The experience is designed to have students take ownership of their professional future early in their accounting education, resulting in their having a satisfying experience in their studies and ultimately, their career.

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